Category Archives: Travel

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I’m back! Not quite one hundred percent, like I’m not feeling the blogging bug like I have in the past, but the desire to write again is coming back. Slowly.

This summer was absolutely crazy in both good and bad ways. More good than bad, but all crazy. My world was upended and continued to be upended. It’s probably not quite back to complete stability, but it’s getting there.

Photo by Pixabay on

Do schools still do the whole “what I did on my summer vacation” writing prompt at the beginning of the school year? I don’t even remember doing it that often when I was in school, but it’s such an ingrained cliche that I just had to take the opportunity to use it, especially considering I was gone the whole summer.

Ok, on to the fun recap. We’ll start Memorial day and go on from there. Memorial Day, we got together with Michael’s immediate family – his parents and his brother’s family. The visit was fun, and it was neat to see our son interact with his cousin who is almost a year older than he is. Completely different from last year when our son was around 2 months old. Plus, there is this Art Alley in the downtown area that had this cool graffiti art. The Mad Hatter was probably my favorite.

The very next weekend, we were road-tripping again, but this time to Houston for a wedding. Our friends were getting married and asked Michael to officiate. Michael is an accountant, so he did the whole getting ordained online thing (he got a certificate for it). He was amazing. Plus, it was a part of Houston I had never been before (near Galveston), and we toured NASA and introduced our son to the beach. Lots of firsts this summer.

The day after we got back, my parents moved into our house. Over the last year, we had been talking about them moving here from Georgia. Having our son was a really great incentive, but there were other reasons as well. It is so, so nice to having them live so close to us! They sold their house pretty quickly, and my dad’s work transfer was really smooth, so we invited them to stay at our house so they could figure out exactly where they wanted to live and take their time to buy a house.

Then, in the middle of July, Michael’s job was sending him to a conference in New York City. The boy and I got to tag along! NYC is probably one of my favorite cities in the world. This was my third visit, and it was a bit different with a kid in tow, but still amazing.

And then, a couple weeks back from that trip, the stomach bug visited our family. It started with our son and moved through the family, miraculously skipping my husband who was able to help take care of us. It was not a fun week, to say the least.

And at the end of this summer, my parents were able to move into their house. It is super cute and only 20 minutes away. It’s pretty cool to be able to have lunch with my parents who I had only seen at most twice a year the last 14 years or so.

I’m kind of glad, to be honest, that I wasn’t trying to keep up with a blog as well. I definitely would have fallen behind. And I’m not sure about the schedule going forward, so I’m probably going to be coming back slowly. Hope you all have had a great summer, and I will talk again soon!

A Brief Visit To Denton, TX

Michael had some business to do in Denton on Monday night this week, so he offered to take me with him.  We had heard that the downtown area had a few shops and restaurants that would be fun to experience, and it did not disappoint!  Of course, I got a little overwhelmed with everything, and we were on a time crunch, so I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked, but I will share my favorites.


The courthouse was absolutely gorgeous.  Michael told me that the area was settled by Czechs, and I can definitely see the Eastern European influence in the architecture of their courthouse.

More Fun Comics and Games was probably my favorite store.  While their comic book collection wasn’t vast or exhaustive, they had an excellent selection.  And the people who worked there had a serious appreciation for graphic novels which was nice.  Their board game collection was also pretty good.  They had a lot of the games that we play with our friends.


This was the inside of the Recycled Books Records CDs store that was in an old opera house.  It was a literal maze of books.  It wasn’t like the Half Price Books we have here in the DFW area. They didn’t have more recent books available for a discount.  It was just a collection of really old books.  If we had a day to spend, I would love to really dig into some of these shelves, but it’s not really worth a quick visit to me.


Again, I forgot to take an outside picture of Atomic Candy, but this store was another fun one.  It had all sorts of candy, including a pizza that was all candy.  We almost got some dark chocolate treats, but we were headed to dinner so we decided not to get anything this time around.

I didn’t get any pictures of where we ate for dinner because we were eating with some of Michael’s friends who I didn’t know very well.  We ate at LSA Burger which was so good.  Since I can’t do dairy right now, we had the hummus for an appetizer, which I thought was excellent.  And I don’t usually like hummus.  I got the Waylon which is their regular burger, and it was so juicy.  Michael got the chicken tenders and fries.  I had some of the fries and they seemed a bit dry.

As we were leaving, they were setting up for some live music.  It seemed like a fun little place to hang out with friends.  They had both indoor and outdoor seating upstairs where we ate.  They also had indoor seating downstairs as well.


I was very impressed by their souvenir shop.  There is a lot of history and culture packed into this little college town.  Michael’s friends described it as Austin but less pretentious.  I don’t know about that, but it did have a very environmental-friendly, dog-friendly, music-friendly, hipster-esque kind of vibe.  And for the summer on a Monday night, it was a pretty busy downtown area.

The only downside was that there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of antique shops or boutique shops available, which are my favorite stores to peruse.  There were a few, but some were closed and the ones that were open didn’t have a whole lot of variety.  I did get one leash hanger for the dogs.


It was a quick trip, and I liked what I was able to see.  I definitely hope to go back some day, maybe during one of their festivals!

Do you visit small towns in your area?  What do you look for in a downtown/small town visit?

Our Trip to Magnolia


Right before the new year, Michael told me that he had to drive to Waco to pick up some lights for his new aquarium.  I asked if I could ride along, and we made plans to eat somewhere in Waco. I casually asked him if I could go to the Magnolia Market at the Silos, the one by Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper.  Michael agreed, and he had no idea what was in store.



I have binge watched episodes of the Fixer Upper, and I love her style.  I was excited to find out that most of the Christmas stuff was 75% off.  However, it was packed and items went really fast.  But I learned that they always had more in the back, they just put out a few items at a time.  I also learned that the drawers underneath each display also held more products to choose from.  I didn’t get any pictures in the store because it was unbelievably crowded.

I did get a few pictures outside, though.

There were a lot of families there, just hanging out, playing catch or sitting on the swings. There were footballs and other toys available to use by this big, green astroturf yard.  And there were food trucks available for lunch.  We ate at the Cheddar Box, a gourmet grilled cheese food truck, and it was delicious!  I also enjoyed a mint and honey Moonshine tea (no actual moonshine in it).

After lunch, we went back into the store, which was still crowded.  That’s when I learned that the employees will restock certain items that seem sold out.  At that point, I had bought only a little water lily magnet, but the second time through I managed to snag a little Christmas tree and an ornament too!


At the end of our visit, we decided to stop by the Magnolia bakery.  It was just as busy as the rest of the place, and they gave out slips of paper so you can create your order ahead of time.  Michael and I split a chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookie which was really good.  (Also, we got coffee from the Common Grounds food truck but I forgot to snap a picture of it.  You will see the coffee cup in the picture below.  Again, the coffee was really good.).

This was really just an exploratory trip.  I wasn’t expecting to come home with much, but I love the treasures that I bought.  The food and atmosphere are phenomenal, and I hope we will go back again soon!

Have you seen Fixer Upper?  Have you been to the Waco store?


Travel Tips for Repeat Road Trips


When I was growing up, I lived 8 hours away from extended family.  Which means whenever we wanted to visit, it was a day-long road trip.  Over the years, we created traditions for our road trips to make them memorable and bearable.

Michael and I also live pretty far from family.  It takes a day to travel to see family on either side.  So, just like in childhood, we have created some traditions as well.  These traditions can also be tips that you can try the next time you set out on a long road trip.

Taking the Dog

We used to take our dog with us all the time when we travel.  There have been a few times she stayed at home, but for the most part, she is a part of our traveling crew.  When we travel long distances, she sits in a large crate.  If we are just driving around town, she will sit in my lap, but it’s safer to have her in the crate.  If the road gets bumpy, she won’t get tossed around the back of the car.  I know that there are seatbelt harnesses available on the market, but I haven’t found one yet that has been proven more effective than the crate option.


Stopping to Rest

When I was small, we always stopped at the rest stops along the state lines.  I’ve started doing this again now as an adult.  The bathrooms are cleaner than a lot of the gas stations.  I can’t vouch for the whole country, but most of the rest stops in the south are situated in park-like environments so we can take the pup for a good walk.  On previous trips, we would just stop at the gas station and it was hit or miss where we could take Jerzee for a potty break.  Also, there are a lot of information brochures for ideas on future travel excursions.  And this past month, the info centers were decked out in holiday decor.


Listening to Topics

Usually, the radio stations get lost about an hour outside of Dallas, so we use audio books and podcasts the rest of the trip.  We like to check audiobooks out from the library to take with us, but lately, we have been downloading podcasts instead.  Our favorite podcast of the moment is Dear Hank and John, two brothers who have a YouTube channel and answer advice type questions.  We have a USB connector above our radio that allows us to fill a flash drive with hours of podcasts to listen to.


Traditional treats

As a kid, the one time we ate at Cracker Barrel was when we traveled.  The restaurant is just set up for travelers.  It has the little store to purchase candies and treats (and now also to rent audio books).  My brother and I would play chess while waiting for a table or for the food to come.  And I would always get the same thing – a vegetable plate with a bottle of root beer.  We have stopped as adults at Cracker Barrel, but we don’t like to leave our pup behind in the car for too long.  I do, however, have specific snacks for the trip in the car.  Michael gets fruit snacks while I like eating pistachios (I like the shelled variety because it gives me something to do with my hands and slows the snacking a bit).

So these are a few tips to help make road trips more memorable and a little more bearable.  Let me know in the comments below, do you do road trips, or are you more of a flyer?  Do you have any tips to share?  Let me know in the comments below.

Washington, D.C.!

Our Wedding Anniversary is actually in December, but we usually plan a big trip in September or October to celebrate early (once we did it in January as well).  This past week for our anniversary, we went to Washington D.C.  There was an aquarium conference being held there that Michael wanted to go to, so we went a couple days early to see the city and celebrate our anniversary.

I had never been to D.C., so everything was a new experience.  This may be a little long, but I’m going to try to fit the visit into one post.  Here were the highlights:


We walked around the Zoo, which felt like a big park that had animals in it.  The pandas were unfortunately not out but it was for the best reason!  They had a cub born in August!


We toured the White House.  We had a secret service tour guide.  The security was crazy.  It was amazing that while we were touring these rooms, other people in other rooms were making decisions for the country.  On our tour, some of the chefs from the White House Kitchen were there with visiting chefs.  So, not only did we here from our official tour guide, we also had a second unofficial tour guide with us we well.  I loved seeing all the different presidential china, most of it pretty simple.


Then, we walked from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.  We walked by the Korean War Memorial, which was important to me because my grandpa, who just passed recently, was a Korean War Veteran.  The Lincoln Memorial was one of Michael’s favorites.  The Abraham Lincoln statue was huge!  On either side were two of his speeches.  I was in awe of how much history was here.  Reading these speeches, I couldn’t help thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr making his speech from here as well.


Toured the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum.  My favorite part was the Hope Diamond display.  The setting was gorgeous!  There was also a live coral reef there as well, though it wasn’t as impressive compared to a dedicated aquarium, but it was cool to be among the rest of the displays.  Between the two museums, we saw the Capitol, which was under construction.  At the Air and Space Museum, Michael liked the drones, and I thought being able to touch a lunar rock was pretty neat.


We also ate at a few neat places.  We tried to stay local.  So the first night, we went to Georgetown, which is a beautiful area.  We ate at a local burger place called the Good Stuff Eatery, which were known for their shakes, but we ate their burgers.  They were okay.  The fries were crispy.  But we passed on the shakes because we went across the street for DC cupcakes, or Georgetown cupcakes as they were known locally.  I had a coconut chocolate cupcake that had the perfect balance of coconut to chocolate.  However, I didn’t like the peanut butter chocolate cupcake.  Still, it was a pretty good night of food.


The next night, we ate at a restaurant close to the hotel called Hot and Juicy, a seafood sports bar.  It was a little more upscale than a normal sports bar.  I had crawfish and it came in a boil bag with its seasoning.  I tried the Hot and Juicy seasoning and it was so good!  And we smelled their food every time we walked from the hotel to the metro.  It was mouthwatering and the wait staff was friendly and helpful.  The other close restaurant to the hotel where we had dinner was called Open City.  They served breakfast all day, which Michael took advantage of, while I had a chicken burger with guacamole.  It was really good too!  I could see why this restaurant was a neighborhood favorite!


Most of the rest of our trip, we ate out of the hotel, but we did manage two other local restaurants.  GCDC is an upscale grilled cheese restaurant.  I had the Mediterranean grilled cheese, and it was delish!  Then, on our last night in the city, we ate at Founding Farmers.  The wait was an hour and a half, but we managed to get seats at the bar in about 15 or 20 minutes.  I had the lobster mac and cheese which was phenomenal.  We also got devil-ish eggs which were really good as well.

This city was overwhelming with history that changed the course of our country many times.  It was an incredible adventure.  We didn’t have time to see everything, but what we were able to see was incredible.  Hopefully, we will be back someday for another adventure!

Have you been to D.C.?  Did you take a tour?  Did you have a favorite local spot to eat?